Ben Rivers

8 July 2015
Ben Rivers Ah, Liberty! (2008) 16mm anamorphic / B&W / sound 20 minutes.  Images from Ah Liberty!  (2008) courtesy the artist and  Kate MacGarry, London.

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Ben Rivers (b.1972, Somerset, UK) lives and works in London. Rivers is an artist working with 16mm film and is known for his meditative portraits of alternative ways of living. His work has been shown in exhibitions and film festivals around the world and has won numerous awards, most recently the Canon Tiger Award for Short Films (2015) and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists (2010). Recent solo exhibitions include The Hepworth Wakefield (2012); Hayward Project Space (2011); and Matt’s Gallery, London (2011). Forthcoming solo exhibitions and commissions include Artangel Open Commission, London (2015) and Camden Arts Centre, London (2015).

With an affection for utopian novels like Sir Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis
and Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, Rivers’s work blends aspects of fiction and
reality in a subversive and poetic manner. His work focuses on lone individuals
and small insular communities on the fringes of society, from hermetic existences
found deep in the Scottish countryside to post-apocalyptic island ecosystems.

The passing of time is a preoccupation of many of Rivers’s subjects. In Origin of The Species subtitled ‘An exploration into the nature of the world via the extraordinary S, who lives in the wilderness’, we hear S. musing on his immediate world and the wider universe: on evolution, quantum physics, and the uncertain future of the human race, while Rivers’s camera explores his wooden hut, his drawings for inventions and the bracken filled woods that surround him. Conceived as a companion piece, Ah, Liberty! is a mesmerising study of a family’s place in the wilderness. Working and playing on a farm in the Scottish highlands throughout the seasons, it captures an untamed sense of freedom, undercut with a sense of foreboding.

Presented by the Contemporary Art Society Collections Fund, 2014


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